In the past year the world class Cadillac CTS model line has added two new body styles to its lineup-the swooping and sexy CTS coupe and the angularly modernist CTS Sport Wagon tested here. With the addition of these two new thoroughly modern luxury vehicles Cadillac has turned the CTS lineup into one of the most appealing in the premium car market.
One glance at the sexy styling of my silver 201 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon (yes, this vehicle proves wagons can be sexy) and it is easy to be convinced that you don’t really need that crossover after all. And while it may give up a little bit of cargo room to some larger luxury crossovers, as long as you don’t regularly need to haul 18th Century antique armoires in the cargo compartment it should fulfill your needs just fine.
This is one of the finest pieces of exterior design to come out of General Motors in the past 3 decades. Taken in combination with the new CTS coupe it would be easy to argue that no luxury home should be complete without the two of them parked side by side in the driveway.
From the vertical tail lamps to the bejeweled headlamp/grille design, the CTS Sport Wagon is truly fashionable to the core. And the best part? It never has to resort to petty overuse of “bling” as a stylistic crutch.
Interior Design and Utility
With a dash of old world elegance mixed in with healthy doses of high tech glitz and glamour, the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon Premium Edition really sets itself apart on the interior front from its Germanic and Japanese competition. No Lexus-like squish or Audi-like austerity is to be found. Cadillac really has found its own uniquely American groove with the interior design of this latest generation CTS.
The cargo area has a usefully shaped 25 cubic foot load area with the rear seats folded that grows to over 58 cubic feet when you drop the second row of seats. That may be less than some premium crossovers but the CTS Wagon offers plenty of room for trips to Costco or for hauling luggage to your private jet. Or the terminal where Jet Blue flights take off. The CTS Sport Wagon really is quite versatile.
The navigation/back-up camera screen rises up majestically from the center console while all of the knobs below it are covered in glossy chrome trim and the buttons all move with a firm clicking smoothness. The controls may lack that Lexus “dipped in butter” feeling but to my fingers they are all the better for it. The CTS Sport Wagon follows no one else’s trail. And that is rare in the luxury class.
All of the seats in my Premium Collection tester were covered in soft and luxurious leather (always a Cadillac strong suit) with the dash even enjoying a sumptuous layering of cowhide. The chrome interior door handles and stylish and solid feeling and each time you enter cool blue ambient mood lighting emanates from under the wood trim along the dash. To describe this interior in two words: subtly classy. Yes, I just used the word subtle to describe a Cadillac interior.
Features, Pricing and Economy
The CTS Sport Wagon starts out at $39,090 with a 3.0 liter direct injection V6 with 270 horsepower and 223 lb. feet of torque. But if you are going to buy a Cadillac what is the point of buying the basic model? The best representation of everything that is Cadillac is this $48,665 Premium Collection model which boasts dual zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, power adjustable height liftgate, navigation, Bose 10-speaker premium audio with iPod integration, XM, 40 gigabye hard drive storage, Bluetooth, gloriously rendered Sapele wood trim, HID (High Intensity Discharge) swiveling headlamps, rearview camera and pretty much every electronic gizmo General Motors currently offers. It’s not exactly cheap but considering the features and style it is worth the price of admission.
My test vehicle came equipped with the optional 19-inch Summer Performance Package which adds 19-inch chrome rims, upgraded summer tires, sport suspension, steering wheel mounted shifters, upgraded brakes and upgraded cooling system for an additional $2,090. Even with the 19-inch rims and sport suspension the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon remained supple over potholed city streets and afforded this sassy wagon extreme cornering grip.
My test vehicle was equipped with the up-level 3.6 liter direct injected “high feature” V6 that pumps out 304 horsepower/273 lb. feet of torque. EPA estimates for this engine are 18 city/26 highway. While I didn’t quite match those numbers during my test with an average of 17 miles per gallon do keep in mind I tend to have a heavy right foot. Unlike many luxury competitors, however, the 3.6 liter V6 in the CTS Sport Wagon runs at full power just on regular unleaded.
The last GM wagon I drove was my parent’s 1984 Buick Electra Estate Wagon replete with stick on appliqué wood trim on the sides. It was gutless, had a steering wheel that was only vaguely connected to the front wheels and when you went around corners the gas gauge would go from empty to full and back again. The CTS Sport Wagon took all of my preconceived notions, decked them in the face, threw them to the floor and then used them to wipe up the bloody mess.
The 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon works hard to earn its “Sport” moniker and handles just as neatly as a BMW 3-series. My parent’s old Buick wagon, um, really didn’t. The Cadillac maintains its unique identity, however, by affording its driver a more compliant ride and less jittery steering feel. Some may say it is “softer” but in that regard I think Cadillac has found a brilliant identity for the CTS Sport Wagon. Not everyone likes German austerity and over-arching sportiness. Some people like a bit of calming luxury in their luxury car.
The 3.6 liter V6 in the CTS Sport wagon is a real gem with plenty of passing power at all speeds and a desire to rev that is absent in many competing V6 engines. It also has a pleasing snort and growl to the engine note that makes you enjoy driving aggressively. Simply put, this is one really fun to drive “Sport Wagon.”
How Dog and Kid Friendly is It?
While you wouldn’t want to make your dog ride in the cargo area, the CTS Sport Wagon could easily carry a couple of pampered pooches in the back seat. Make that very, very pampered pooches. The Sport Wagon could also easily accommodate one child seat and a stroller if you drop one of the sides of the split folding rear seats. No stroller I found could fit without dropping at least half of the rear seats but otherwise the interior of the CTS felt very child and doggie destruction proof.
My previous experiences with Cadillac were from the era when their idea of luxury was a leather clad bench seat and whitewalls. To say my view was antiquated is an understatement and my week with the CTS Sport Wagon was a privilege I will never forget. If you are shopping BMW, Infiniti or Mercedes be sure to check out the wares at your local Cadillac dealer. Personally, I can’t wait to see what Cadillac comes up with next.
Vehicle Tested: 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon Premium Edition
Base Price: $39,090
Premium Edition Base Price: $48,665
Price as Tested: $51,215
Options on Tester: (19-inch Summer Tire Performance Package: $2,090)-19 inch polished aluminum wheels, 19 inch summer tires, sport suspension, steering wheel mounted shifters, performance brakes, performance cooling system, (Compact Spare Tire: $250), (Cargo Tray: $100), (Underhood Appearance Package: $100).
Engine: 3.6 liter V6 engine
Power: 304 horsepower, 273 lb. feet of torque
0-60: 5.8 seconds (estimated)
Economy: 18 city/26 highway
Economy as Tested: 17 miles per gallon
Recommended Fuel: Regular Unleaded
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Cargo Area: 25 cubic feet (behind second row), 58 cubic feet (behind first row)
Warranty: 4 year/50,000 mile bumper to bumper coverage
5 year/100,000 mile powertrain coverage
Crash Test: (NHTSA)-front driver (4 stars)
Front passenger-(five stars)
Side Impact (both sides)-(five stars)